Sunday, November 24, 2013
I hate clutter, clutter in my home clutters my mind. I don't function well in a cluttered home or environment. My brain doesn't know what to do and I can't seem to keep up on my daily chores when I see clutter through out my home. I neglect my daily cleaning because with too much clutter I don't know where to stop. With Christmas coming and the onslaught of toys I know will be home soon I wanted to tackle this sooner than later. With 2 kids we are out growing our little home. But alas it is our home and I like it neat and tidy. I made myself a list of all the rooms and areas I wanted to work on. I've made some good progress and hope to post some before and afters soon. I've give lots away, which I think is always a great first step. Hoping to be clutter free in 2014
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Thursday, October 31, 2013
The leaves are red, yellow and falling down on our heads every time we are outside, walking, playing or just enjoying the sights. The sound of crunching leaves, the smell of the autumn air, burning wood and the morning frosty dew. I just love fall. So far we've baked pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pancakes (best thing ever!), pumpkin bread and pumpkin muffins. We collected leaves, glued them in our nature book and identified what trees they came from. We drew each leaves and colored them. We painted trees with falling leaves, painted and carved pumpkins. Gone on a few gnome walks and walks in our own yard. We made a leave pile and jumped in it. We climbed trees. We played in the park and on the playground as much as possible before it gets too cold. We danced in the rain, splashed in puddles and felt the rain drops on our hands. We trick or treated. We collected pine cones and made bird feeders. We collected nuts and acorns. The weather this fall has been a well deserved blessing and I'm so glad I've taken the time to enjoy as much time out and about in it. And I hope to continue til we need winter coats and gloves, but then I still hope I can make it out to enjoy the seasons and outdoors.
Monday, September 30, 2013
With the horrible, rainy, cool summer we have its such a blessing to have this extended summer going well into Fall. This week it is going to reach in the 80s and I have no complaints. We have been enjoying as much time as possible outside in the warm sun. The leaves have slowly started to fall and some are changing, but it is still mostly green here. The best part about this warm sunny weather is its giving my peppers a chance to grow. I finally have a few green ones ready to harvest. But I'm holding out a bit til they turn red. I also have some yellow ones almost ready to be harvested. They should be ready at the end of the week. This excites me even more since its an old variety an elderly man gave to my dad. He brought the peppers all the way from Hungary. I will do my best to try to save the seeds and pass on Nick's Peppers for more seasons to come.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
There is an old saying "Anyone who can read can cook" and in part I do agree. I have rarely failed if I can take my time and follow directions. This is why I usually enjoy baking better than cooking, while cooking you can't really go slow. But with 2 little girls running around baking is rarely a leisurely activity these days. A few nights ago I made soup for dinner and realized I had no bread so I thought I'd whip up some of Paula Deen's Biscuits. Nice and easy, no need to wait for it to rise. During my baking a fight broke out, a common occurrence when you have a 2 year old and a 4 year old. I ran over to break it up and returned to my baking. I lost my mental place and skipped a simple step. I didn't realize it til the biscuits were done, flat and gross. I added the baking powder, I just forgot to mix the dry ingredients before I added the wet to them. I have never done this before but can't believe what a crucial step it must be. The biscuits were inedible. I've made them before, doing nothing different but not forgetting to mix and they were wonderful. Lesson learned, but who knew that each step is so carefully written out, really makes such a huge difference. This is how they are supposed to look, not like the hockey pucks I had. :)
Friday, September 6, 2013
Liv is back in school, 3 days a week of pre-k. While part of me still dreams of homeschooling I just don't know if it will ever work out for us. One huge part is I know myself and know I crack with out a break. I need some time with out fighting, yelling, biting (well that's Eve not Liv)whining and just time for me. So far everyday Liv's been in school I've hit our local trail for a run/walk. (I can not run even half of it, but hey I'm trying) I'm not alone, Eve is in tow. But its much more peaceful of a walk since she has no ones hair to pull or no one to poke out when she gets bored half way through. Today I just walked with 2 other moms, and boy was it nice. We walked, talked and enjoyed the fall breeze in the air. Talking to two other adults while the toddlers enjoyed the leaves falling and Eve some coloring and snacks too. I'm hoping to stick to this work out schedule, since it feels so good and maybe, just maybe I'll get back in those skinny jeans. 3 hours with one child, yes that is a huge break and relation for me. Funny to think of one child being a break, but any parent of more than one will tell you it really is. Is also nice to get to spend some one on one time. And Eve actually really enjoys playing alone, something she rarely gets to do since Liv wants to always play with her. I get so much done not having to play referee. I give so much credit to those homeschooling moms and dream of maybe a part-time way for me. If I could afford it I would maybe pay for some classes during the day. They actually offer so much around here. Dance, art, natures, music. But for me to afford all of that I need to work. But those classes would give me the break I need. And hopefully some socialization they love. People around here are very "modern" full time pre-k, preschool at 2, dance lessons, swim lessons and soccer. All of that doesn't leave too many friends around for playdates. That is a huge reason I put her in school and even if I had the money a big reason why I still might hesitate homeschooling. The homeschoolers here are far and few inbetween. Right now I feel like I'm living my homeschool dream. She's out a little bit, but still home enough so I can enjoy time with her. On non school days I homeschool pre-k stuff with her. Right now we are working on phonics. Next week we'll be starting "Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons." Pinterest is also an amazing homeschooling tool. I have so many cute crafts planned. Liv being home more also helps me do religious studies with her. Its important to me that she understands her religion and is raised with good Christian values. Part of that for me is having her home enough to show and teach her that. As their mom I feel I am best to teach them, as I feel most other moms are their own children's best teachers. So for now I'm enjoying the part-time school part-time homeschool life and dreaming of lotto winnings, a move to a cheaper state or a big fat inheritance to make that dream come true.
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Summer is almost over, school starts soon and we are trying to finish up all the summer fun we had plan. My husband took off the week so we can take some daytrips. The zoo, the beach, the park and summer fun in our own backyard. Also the girls joint birthday party. But alas, we are home, day 2 and home. Its Murphy's Law in my house and of course something on my car broke. The expensive problem is something my husband can fix, but again, he notices more problems and needs more parts so the quick fix is now into its second day. So I played soccer in yard, frisbee and cleaned for the girls party. Summer memories are what you make of them. No beach this year, but Liv learned how to catch a ball, hit a ball with a bat and Eve can kick a soccer ball. I'd say even with all the problems, horrible weather and things breaking at home it was a pretty nice summer and ending on a nice at home note.
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Woke up, feed children made muffins, made lunch for husband showered, dressed laundry, hang one load on line park play date picnic girls nap do another load in the washer work out video take clothes off line hang second load online clean up kitchen girls wake up go outside play garden, weed, plant lettuce and spinach, removed dying plants snack time dinner prep color through another load in the washer get garbages ready and bring to curb cook dinner read get clothes off the line, place last load in dryer give girls a bath read stories girls in bed get bills read blog rest I can not believe all I did all of this in one day. I'm beat, but I did it all. Recently a friend lent me Mangers of Their Homes by the Maxwell family (I read the Duggars use their system so it if can help of family that large it surely can give me some ideas). Reading it I was shocked how much these woman did in a day. They all homeschool, keep their homes well and still had time for crafts, reading and exercise. Seeing how they can do it I thought I must try to schedule my day better. I get off and on the scheduling since I have never been strict with it. I sat down and worked up all I want to do in a day and all I need to do and made myself and my girls a daily schedule. Its amazing how just putting it all down helps me get it all done. I'm exhausted, but I will probably sleep well and fall asleep fast, something I don't often do. It's still not all done. I have loads of clean laundry, but its not put away. That will be on tomorrows to do list. I'm not a perfect homemaker and not a perfect parent, but I'm trying to get more done and its working. I want more time to knit, to read, to read to my girls and so far I am getting more time to do this, while still getting more done. I've never been a scheduling type of person, but as I have grown up I have realized I really am the scheduling type, I just didn't know it yet.
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Okay? A simple word I found myself saying daily. It was either "can you clean this mess up?" or "we are going to bed now okay?" Why am I giving my kids the option, why am I okaying? them. Why I am checking with them and asking them when there really is nothing to be asked. I feel into this trap once before, right around the time Liv was Eve's age now. And with Eve starting the terrible 2s I started reading parenting books for some inspiration, some ideas and to hopefully help and find ways to limit her tantrums. Right away I realized I was doing it again. I feel back into the okay? is it okay if I discipline you? The ambivalence with adding okay? or can you? to my statements must be so confusing to a toddler. "she said okay? or can you, well I don't feel like so no I can't" is what is often probably going through her head. Why did I fall in this trap again? I read this once years ago and it was like an epiphany to what my parent skills were lacking. Overall I think I'm a pretty good parent, but I have this problem with commanding authority over my kids. But I know I'm not the only one. This is so common today in parenting and I wonder why. I have no problems with my kids questioning me, I'm not for blind obedience to authority figures (google the Milgram experiment to see one huge reason why) but I do want obedience. I want my kids to respect authority, to be responsible and respectful to me as their mom. But I got back in this wishy-washy discipline and believe me my kids noticed and took advantage. Its so hard all the mixed messages our kids see and hear daily I don't want my parenting to be another. Yet as parents many have a hard time correcting our children. Is it our own problem with authority? we are the authority and that is strange or difficult for us to grasp. Is it our need to be friends with our children? Is it our need to protect them from hurt and pain? All of this backfires, our children can be our friends, but we are parents first. We can not protect them from all pain and discomfort, nor should we. We need to expose them so they can deal when they are out "in the real world" The will be inept and not ready if we don't start at home. Exposing them to small trials and tribulations. This will help our children succeed in life, be happy and productive. Isn't that what every parent wants for their kids? Okay? will not get them there. When I opened my most recent parenting book and read this again recently I realize, I'm doing that, again. My own past problems with discipline and authority were again hurting me to be an effective parent. It was amazing the difference in one day of saying "I need you to clean that mess" instead of "can you clean that mess" They listened, no arguments. When Eve did argue she did eventually come around, without a major tantrum. Her tantrums have gone down significantly. This is a great relief to all of us since her tantrums are often epic. The world is overwhelming enough for a toddler, it must be such a great relief for her to know that Momma is in control and Momma is here and a secure figure for her to lean on and rely on. Being a parent isn't supposed to always be easy and fun and okay? is something I need to remind myself not to do. I am a strong, confident woman and need to be a strong confident parent for my girls. This will inturn help them become strong in who they are and confident and secure with themselves.
Thursday, August 1, 2013
I've been told my menu planning is cute, quaint, and very Martha Stewart like. I don't think too many New Jerseyans take pride in homemaking skills. Its all very quaint to most people I talk with. But to me menu planning is a budget saver and time saver. I look at my board, I can see if I need to defrost anything, but mostly its okay this is easy no thinking about meals for the rest of the week. I sit Sunday nights and look at the circular, I plan my dinners and lunches around sale items. It saves so much time. The specific board I use I have not seen for sale again, online or at Target where I got it. Which is a shame because its so perfect but any white board or even a piece of paper taped to the fridge works. For this week our plan was Monday- Burgers Tuesday- Eggplant parm Wed-Chicken Milanese Thursday- BLTs Friday- Meatloaf Sat- Dinner date night (girls will have pasta Sun-Chicken roaster I will use the chicken leftovers for at least one more meal the next week and possibly for lunch.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
My garden is growing well, but some plants have been lacking. I should have eggplants and peppers by now but I don't even have flowers on my plants. This growing season got started late, heat waves, heavy rain and cool weather are not helping my warm loving plants grow to their full potential. So today I ended up buy an eggplant from a local farm. They had mostly stuff I am growing well, but I do get my corn from them. I don't really have to room for corn in my small garden. I love eggplant parmesan. It is one of my favorite meals and now I that I have perfected my recipe it has become my husbands too. There is one trick that makes the perfect eggplant parm. You need to salt the eggplants and let them sit to remove some of the water. This makes the eggplant cook nice and tender and that good Italian restaurant flavor that mine was always missing. I thought I could do with out salting to save on sodium, some recipes call for salting, some don't. But it does not taste right with out salting. I cut the eggplant thin, lay them on a plate,sprinkle the eggplant with salt, top them with a paper towel then top it with another plate to put pressure and help draw out the water. Let it sit for an hour. Next step is the frying. Get 3 shallow bowls, fill the first one with flour, the second one with 2 eggs, lightly beaten, then the third bowl with bread crumbs. Heat oil in a pan, have the oil come up maybe 1/8 or 1/4 inch. While the oil is heating dip the eggplant in the flour, then eggs, then bread crumbs. Fry them for about 2 min on each side, til golden brown. The place in a baking pan that has some marinara sauce on the bottom. Make a bottom layer with eggplant. Top the eggplant with marinara sauce, the fresh mozzarella cheese(local if you can find it). I also sprinkle some real parmesan cheese on too. Repeat the layers til you are out of eggplant. Bake covered in a preheated over at 350F. Bake 15-20, uncover and bake an additional 5-10 min til the cheese is nice a bubbly. Serve with pasta. I'm hoping soon to make this with my own sauce. Eggplant parm, one of my favorite local treats, from local sources.
Thursday, July 18, 2013
Last week we did our annual Staycation, our stay at home, daytrips, vacations. On one of our trips we visited Storybook land in South Jersey. For us its a decent drive so we had other plans in the morning. We also know no one who has been there before so we were a little apprehensive about making our whole trip about it. I can not say enough wonderful things about this place.
Saturday, July 6, 2013
Its hot, steaming hot out here. Summer is in full swing and the heat is above 90 most days, with a nice dose of humidity mixed in. We are doing anything and everything to keep cool, playing with the hose, swimming, relaxing in the air conditioning, and eating lots of ice cream. I don't mind the occasional treat but I'm not a fan of it as an everyday thing. We have also been eating fruit bars and other pops. Most fruit bars contain a lot of sugar so are probably not the most healthy option either. Well I decided to stick a pop in a slice of watermelon, stick it in the freezer and give it to my kids as fruit pops. They love them and so do I. Its the easiest, coolest and a very healthy summer treat. Frozen grapes are also one of my fav ways to cool down, but the fact that they are lacking popsicle sticks they aren't as kid friendly or appealing. So frozen watermelon on a stick it is. Enjoy the heat.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Today I noticed lots of small zucchini growing on my 2 plants. I find 2 plants given enough room to grow, produce more zucchini than we can even eat. Today I picked 3 of them for our first harvest that isn't lettuce.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
While lots of the country have been dealing with extremes this season I have been lucky to have the perfect growing weather. Its been warm, but not hot and rainy with periods of nice strong sunshine. This has been a blessing for my garden, especially given the late start I got. We had late frosts this year so my plants were late in the ground and on top of that this was my first time growing from seeds and it took longer than I expected. I've been anxious for flowers on my tomatoes. They take so long to ripen and started so little in the ground I even bought one larger one from a local nursery hoping I might get some early ones. Well with this perfect storm of weather you now can't even tell the difference between the bought plant and the ones I grew. They are all growing so well. Even my little Jersey Devil plant that I have been so worried about. It was so tiny when I put it in the ground. I just hoped being in the ground it would take well and catch up. Its not as big as the other plants, but it is catching up well. Today as I was pinching off the little shooters in their "elbows" I noticed something that got me so excited. Flowers, little flowers starting on my tomatoes. I can't believe how excited I get from such simple things now. I can almost taste those Jersey tomatoes now.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
One of my favorite garden items are tomatoes. Nothing is tastier than a fresh, red (or pink or yellow), ripe tomato. This year since I live in New Jersey I decided to have a Jersey theme. We are known for our summer produce, and tomatoes tops that list. I am growing Rutgers tomatoes, my first time growing them. Rutgers also happens to be my alma mater.
Sunday, June 16, 2013
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Its been the rainiest spring, today was another bad one. Thunderstorms, high winds, and flash flood warning so we spent the day inside. It was so bad I didn't even want to drive somewhere to get out of the house for a bit. Last rainy day we splashed in the puddles and looked for worms. This rainy day we spent baking banana zucchini cinnamon chip bread(I'll post the recipe later), coloring, dancing and looking at videos of the girls.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Schools almost out for some already for others. The summer can be a time of great fun,memories, relaxing and hands on learning. It can also be a time of stress for many parents filled with longs days of emptiness and too much free time. For many kids long gone are the days of neighborhoods being filled with bike rides and playing in the woods til the streetlights come on. Playmates maybe be over scheduled or on vacation so your kids may get lonely or bored with no one else around. While I think lots of free time and free play are great in the summer it can also be a great time to do things you may not have time to do in a busy school year. 1. Free play 2. Plant a garden 3. Pick blueberries 4. Pick raspberries 5. Make some jam 6. Make some homemade bread 7. Enjoy some homemade bread with your homemade jam 8. Go for a hike 9. Get a state Beach pass (In New Jersey we have to pay for beach access, this can make family trips very expensive but you can get a state pass for certain beaches, lakes and rec areas. Its a one time fee and it covers however many people are in your car) 10. Visit the beach 11. Visit a lake 12. Go fishing 13. Go for a bike ride on a trail 14. Go for a ride in a town and get lunch 15. Visit your local library and see what fun they have for the summer. My local library usually has summer storytime, a petting zoo, puppet shows and more 16. Pull some weeds from your garden 17. Visit a nature preserve 18. Go to the zoo 19. Visit a local river and get your feet wet. With older children tubing is great fun. NJ and PA Delaware River is always a great place to do this 20. Go for a boat ride 21.visit your local park 22. Visit a different park, pack a lunch and make a day of it. One of my favorites is Colonial Park in Somerset. They have a nicely renovated children's playground, a lake, paddle boats, and several flower gardens. 23. Make a playdate 24. Board games, old school fun, great for a raining day 25. Body painting. Outside let your kids paint themselves and use the hose to wash off. 26. Visit a local pool. 27. Play in the sprinklers like you did as a kid. Play with your kids and enjoy the cool fun. 28. Play mini-golf 29. Go for a nature walk along a lake. One of my favorites is High Point in Sussex County. 30. Visit a historic monument that tells a story. Again High Point is great if you can make it up. I got too scared 31. Go roller skating 32. Put on some music and dance 33. Explore the woods 34. Play hopscotch, jump rope, jacks or other old school games. 35. Have a bonfire, tell stories, roast some marshmallows and make smores 36. Go out and catch lightning bugs 37. Have a water balloon fight 38. Wake up early and watch the sunrise 39. Go out and watch the stars, try to identify constellations. 40. Teach older children to knit or crochet a scarf for fall weather. 41. Dance in the rain 42. Have a tea party 43. Read some fairy tales in your yard 44. Have a "bear hunt" in your yard 45. Put on a puppet show 46. Make a birdhouse 47. Make a bat house 48. Make some yummy bird treats 49. Visit a children's museum 50. Fly a kite 51. Create a play with your children in your backyard 52. Have a lemonade stand, give the profits to charity 53. Visit a nursing home or an elderly relative or neighbor 54. Volunteer at an animal shelter to play with and walk the dogs 55. Go to a carnival 56. Go see some fireworks 57. Make homemade tomato sauce, from fresh tomatoes from your garden 58. Make homemade pizza, dough and all 59. Go to a AA ballgame 60. Visit some old friends 61. Have a parade around your block with homemade instruments, or if your child plays real ones 62. Watch a sunset 63. Bird watch, keep a bird book 64. Create a scrapbook of the summer or the previous school year 65. Try to find some tadpoles and see if you can "grow" some frogs 66. Play flashlight tag 67. Build a treehouse 68. Grow a sunflower house 69. Make a gnome or fairy house and leave it outside, or on the Columbia Trail. 70. Visit a site of historical significance, like Washington Crossing Park. 71. Walk barefoot in the grass 72. Play in the kiddie pool 73. Build sandcastles 74. Make mud pies 75. Teach your kids cat's cradle 76. BBQ 77. Go camping, in your backyard or at a site 78. Swim in a lake 79. Pick fresh flower 80. Go out to Stewards for a nice outdoor, cheap dinner 81. Be together and be in the moment, smile and have fun
Monday, June 10, 2013
I have an almost 4 year old who is starting to get interested in reading. She says she wants to learn how to read so I have been working with her a little bit to get her ready to really learn to read. I am a big believer in going at a child's pace and not pushing them. Learning at this age should be enjoyable and fun, not forced at all. One thing I have started doing with her is reading a story I know has a lot of a certain letter. Today we read a bird book. So I gave her a block with the letter B on it.She traced the B with her hands, lower and upper case. We made B sounds and I told her to listen for the letter b. When the letter was prominent like in bluebird I pointed it out to her. We also love the Curious George Learns the Alphabet Book. It is so wonderfully illustrated and she has for a while learned to associate letters with certain words and sounds, like S-snail or T-tomahawk We are going slow, working on a letter every few days. This gives it time to sink in and helps so it doesn't feel so school like. I want my children to crave learning, love it and really want to learn. Not think of learning as some passive experience where they are drilled with flash cards and words. While this might help an older child learn, a child who is not even 4, yes it can be taught to them, but at what consequence? And are they truly learning it or just repeating blindly like a parrot? If she is reading at 4 she will be a young reader, but I have seen it pushed on kids even younger. But do children really younger than 4 understand phonemes and language rules? This is even hard for a 4 year old to grasp which is why I am going slow with her and teaching phonics. She already has picked up some sight words but over and over again I read how the combination of whole reading and phonics the best way for a child to become a great reader. Maybe tomorrow we will read the Cat in the Hat and work on C, or maybe if the rain clears we will spend the day in the sun, digging in the dirt and listening to the cicadas. That is the wonderful thing about this age and learning at home, no pressure, just love and enjoyment.
I have a love hate with rain. It helps my garden grow big, but keeps us inside, at least during thunder storms. Its makes me sleepy, which would be okay if I didn't have 2 little ones to care for. I love watching storms come in, but my current house has no front porch to sit and watch them. But my biggest love is it gives me a day to just be, be inside, clean and have fun with the girls. Its quiet time now. The day got off to a late start since everyone slept in, yeah for the rain making them sleepy too. We had breakfast, did dishes, the girls watch some Youtube video on phonics. Liv is getting interesting in reading so I've been trying to get her some prep for it. We read a book about birds. We also had some tantrums over clothes. We played hide and seek and danced to the Wiggles. We had a nice lunch. Now its time for laundry and my quiet time. The afternoon should have some more cleaning while the girls free play together. Maybe some art, painting or coloring. More storytelling and maybe one more show. I'm usually pretty strict with the tv, but for everyones sanity I lighten up a little bit on rainy days we don't leave the house. I'm hoping to get on the rain gear and check out our garden later too. I think our strawberries might be ripe. Rainy day fun on the good old homestead.
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Today was a beautiful summer like day, reaching in the low 80s. So we decided to take another walk on the Columbia Trail and check out the Gnome homes.
The nature sites are a beauty in its own, but for anyone the homes add an element of fun. It wonderful to see the hard work and creativity people put in these homes and scenes. And its more wonderful to see my toddlers face light up every time she sees a home and runs to go explore it.
The nature sites are a beauty in its own, but for anyone the homes add an element of fun. It wonderful to see the hard work and creativity people put in these homes and scenes. And its more wonderful to see my toddlers face light up every time she sees a home and runs to go explore it.
Friday, April 12, 2013
Spring is finally here and I've spent the last 2 weeks with my hands in the Earth planting away. I have high ambitious this year, even though my garden will be mostly in containers. A huge tree landed on my garden during a hurricane and ruined most of the fencing and door, the tree is so large that it is still there. I've gotten resourceful and have many plants started in containers. Spinach, lettuce, strawberries and special heirloom carrots that grow fat, not long. I also planted beans and snow peas along the only standing side of fence left from the garden. In my basement I have started many seedlings. Some my little munchkin child requested. Pumpkins, cucumbers, watermelon, tomatoes, peppers, and more. We love watching them grow. Its a little science experiment in our basement. Home learning fun. Home grown yummies coming soon.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Liv has expressed interest in the days of the week She wants to know what day it is, what day is tomorrow and what days we do what. I know for me personally songs are the best way to learn something. I can still tell you the quadratic equations because my High School Algebra teacher taught us with a song. Liv and I have been singing the Happy Days theme: Sunday, Monday Happy Days Tuesdays Wednesdays Happy Days Thursday Fridays Happy Days Saturdays What a day Grooving all week for you She is already getting Sunday Monday and will sing the rest along with me. <3 when I can sing cool old theme songs and teach my daughter a life long lesson Hey!